TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G review: Is it worth the hype?

After a period of using the device daily, I finally have my Phantom V Flip 5G review ready. This is TECNO’s first foldable flip phone, released some months after their first foldable device, the Phantom V Fold, hit the market.

It is an excellent first try, but like all first attempts, it has its niggles. What is good is that the niggles are bearable.

TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G review: phone beside the box

Pros

  • Beautiful design that is an eye-catcher
  • crisp, sharp foldable display
  • sturdy hinges.
  • selfie camera has autofocus
  • fastest wired charging on devices in this class.
  • good cameras
  • good performance
  • most affordable foldable phone

Cons

  • limited cover display functionality
  • the Always-on Display clock does not update properly on the main screen.
  • Some homescreen widgets do not refresh and update properly, either.
  • Sunlight legibility is poor
  • Unimpressive stereo speakers

Unboxing

Find out what is in the box in this delightful unboxing video:

Design

The design of the circular cover display is called cosmic Design. The Mystic Dawn colour scheme is perfect, if you ask me. The other colour scheme, Iconic Black, does not do the looks of the phone justice. If you want to show off your Phantom V Flip, be sure to buy the Mystic Dawn colour scheme.

TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G is well designed.

Build Quality

The build quality of the Phantom V Flip is top notch. TECNO went all out for this. The steel hinge is sturdy and firm. And the frame is made of aluminium. The light crease in the joint of the screen is well managed, barely noticeable under most conditions.

The back panel of the phone is made of “Eco leather” or vegan leather. It all feels very premium – tastefully done. The Phantom V Flip is quite the looker and also feels great in the hand. Opened up, it has a slim profile and does not feel heavy in the hand. In closed mode, it is thicker but quite compact. It slips nicely into most pockets and bags.

The hinge of the TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G.

There is no ingress protection on the V Flip, which costs it some points when compared with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 and Flip5, as well as OPPO N3 Flip. Just be aware that you don’t want your Phantom V Flip 5G getting splashed with water or getting dunked.

The hinges are designed such that the phone can be opened up to sit in different positions. For example, it is great for watching videos, and the software kicks in to provide controls on the lower half of the screen.

TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G review: Is it worth the hype? 1
Watching video with the V Flip propped up.

Cover Display

I am going to kick off this section of my TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G review with a gripe: why exactly do we have a foldable phone that you can’t read your SMS, emails, and other messages on the cover screen? Who at TECNO thought that was a good idea?

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The cover screen supports notifications, but it is almost useless. The notifications are buried under a layer of menu. For example, when you receive an SMS, you have to swipe up on the Cover Display to see it. Who thinks it is a good idea to make a phone user dig to find their notifications?

TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G review: Is it worth the hype? 2

I didn’t get any incoming WhatsApp message notifications in the Cover Display, though notification for incoming WhatsApp calls are supported. Odd combination; right?

And in many scenarios, you have to open up the V Flip in order to complete whatever task you initiate on the Cover Display. Music player: open the device. Calendar: open the device. Perhaps the only app you can use fully on the cover display is the camera.

TECNO needs to fix this and make the outer display more functional. It should be doable via a software update, and it should be done as soon as possible, if the company wants users of the Phantom V Flip 5G to enjoy the kind of functionality that will make them feel like the phone is beyond a fashion statement.

Thankfully, you can answer incoming telephone calls from the cover display. Oh, you can also respond to your text message by selecting one of a few preset responses (good one, as typing on the tiny cover display is next to impossible).

Performance

TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G
When opened up, it feels and acts like a normal smartphone.

Performance is good. I have had zero issues with it, and that is no surprise. The Dimensity 8050 chipset is tried and tested. That’s the same chipset in the Camon 20 Premier 5G and I have nothing but praise for it. It is paired with 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage.

The Phantom V Flip runs smoothly. Apps launch quickly and switching between them is without any pauses or lags. Job well done.

Battery Life

One significant weakness of flip foldable phones in general has been battery life. Compared to regular smartphones, foldable phones just guzzle more power. The V Flip 5G is no different. Compared to other flip phones. It is is close to the top in terms of battery life, but it does not come close to what I am used to experiencing. For example, the Camon 20 Premier lasts for between two and four hours extra on a full charge. But then, the Camon also has a bigger battery (5000 mAh against the Flip’s 4000 mAh), so there’s that, too.

Charging is fast, though. Along with OPPO Find N3 Flip, it has the fastest wired charging in any foldable flip phone. More accurately, it is rated above the Find N3 Flip which has 44W charging. The Phantom V Flip has 45W.

Camera

TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G review: using the cover display as a camera mirror for selfies
TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G review: using the cover display as a camera mirror for selfies.

The main camera in the Phantom V Flip is a 64-megapixel shooter coupled with a 13-megapixel ultrawide shooter. It records 4k video, too. There is a 32-megapixel selfie camera on the main screen when opened up, but since I am able to use the cover display as a mirror for selfies via the much better main camera, I don’t bother with the selfie camera any more. I simply shoot all my selfies with the phone closed and using the main camera.

How good is the camera of the Phantom V Flip 5G? Quite good. Really good. But not as good as the camera of the Camon 20 Premier 5G. It falls just short of it in terms of picture quality. But overall, it is a really good camera.

Software

It runs Android 13 and I am told that it will get two major software updates, so you can expect Android 14 and 15. How fast those will come is a different question. TECNO is not known for being speedy with their updates.

Thankfully, and perhaps for the first time, here is a TECNO smartphone that didn’t assualt me with a barrage of notifications from random apps after I connected it to the Internet and set it up. That’s a breath of fresh air. More of this, TECNO.

Of course, a nunber of bloatware were present, some of which I was able to delete. In simple terms, bloatware is a term that refers to unnecessary software that comes pre-installed on a new phone by the manufacturer or the carrier. These software are not essential for the phone’s core functionality, but they take up valuable storage space and may affect the phone’s performance and battery life.

Issues

I have mentioned the limited functionality of the cover display. But even the main display has its issues. Widgets in the homescreen don’t always refresh properly, leaving me looking at stake information. The Always-on Display (AOD) clock does not update properly on the main screen. One night, it was two hours behind the current time. I eventually removed widgets and disabled the AOD.

Also, I struggle to be able to read text or view images on the main screen when outdoors in direct sunlight. And I am talking about 10am sunlight in Lagos. Not that I spend a lot of time out in the sun, but when I do, it is a severe handicap.

The fingerprint scanner is built into the power button on the right side of the phone. But it is located in the upper half of the fold, where it is out of reach of anybody’s thumb. I have big hands and long fingers, yet even I have to reach up to get to it. As far as usability is concerned, the power button should have been located on the lower half of the fold for easier reach. The volume buttons too.

The V Flip has stereo speakers, but they don’t quite cut it in terms of quality. Volume is good, but the audio has a distinctive lack of bass. For comparison, the stereo speakers on the Camon 20 Premier have much better audio quality.

Network Connectivity

The Phantom V Flip has good network connectivity. It holds on to a signal well, be it 3G, 4G, or 5G. Did I mention that this is the only TECNO smartphone I have seen in years that is single SIM? You read that right: the Phantom V Flip is NOT a dual-SIM phone. Don’t ask me why; I have no idea. Does it support e-SIM? Not at all. You are stuck with using a plastic nano SIM card.

My Phantom V Flip 5G Review Verdict

The Phantom V Flip delivers on all counts except for the limited capability of the Cover Display. And that stings, because a cover display is a distinctive feature that is unique to foldable phones. TECNO needs to make it more functional. For now, only the main camera takes full advantage of it; everything else feels like they were added to the cover display as an afterthought.

What TECNO has done with the Phantom V Flip 5G is impressive. This is a high-end mid-ranger in a premium body, and it costs about half the price of some of the competition. I like it and only wish that TECNO would fix the issues with the cover display and homescreen widgets and Always-On Display.

TECNO Phantom V Flip 5G Video Review

Enjoy the video review:

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